States propose anti-social media background check laws

Are you requiring job applicants to fork over their social media website login information as part of your company’s pre-employment screening process? While checking social media sites is becoming more and more popular among employers as yet another avenue for finding out all they can about a prospective employee, some state lawmakers and organizations are already gearing up to fight this practice, which they say is an invasion of privacy.

This past week Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) was added to the handful of state representatives across the country who are proposing laws to make this practice illegal. Blumenthal says that his bill, once finished, will include some exceptions, like for federal and local law enforcement agencies, and government agencies that handle national security issues. He did indicate that private companies that receive government contracts would be regulated under the legislation.  

A similar bill in Illinois is backed by the ACLU. Such a law, if it passes, would make it just as illegal for an employer to ask for an applicant’s Facebook password as it is illegal for an employer to ask a woman if she plans to have children.

As we’ve advised before, employers who wish to conduct social media background checks – and the numbers are growing – should tread carefully, so as not to open themselves up to discrimination claims or risk using false information when weighing their hiring decisions.


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S.C.s law enforcements access to federal criminal databases could be revoked

South Carolina law enforcement could soon find it difficult to catch criminals who cross state borders into the Palmetto State.

The FBI recently sanctioned S.C.’s State Law Enforcement Division for not properly monitoring criminal records that are shared among states. The sanction is the first step toward revoking South Carolina’s access to the FBI’s criminal databases. SLED Chief Mark Keel says the sanctions were a result of SLED’s previous administration outsourcing much of its information technology work, leaving the FBI unable to monitor local law enforcement agencies as they used the federal system.

If South Carolina’s access to the FBI’s criminal databases was revoked, there would be serious consequences for law enforcement officers on the street, as well as businesses and nonprofit organizations who depend on the system for pre-employment background checks.

Without access to the FBI’s criminal database, a South Carolina police officer could pull over a person who is wanted on a murder charge in another state and have no way of knowing it. Or an S.C. company could run a background check for a prospective employee and not know of felony convictions in other states.

Here’s hoping SLED gets the money it needs — Keel estimates the agency needs to spend about $6 million to fix the problems — before it loses access to such valuable information.

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